Monday, November 05, 2018

Vijay Mallya's luxury jet is yet to find home, even after five years

 New Delhi/Mumbai: Five years after billionaire liquor-baron Vijay Mallya’s luxury jet was impounded by the government, it is yet to find a home. A Florida-based company that won the auction for the jet is now running from pillar-to-post, unable to take possession of the aircraft despite winning it in a court-monitored auction process. Meanwhile, the A319 aircraft, bearing the registration VT-VJM — after the fugitive tycoon’s initials, stands at one corner of the Mumbai airport occupying precious parking space.

The company, Aviation Management Sales, is mulling moving the Bombay High Court as it now faces the prospect of paying penalty because of its inability to remove the aircraft as Indian aviation regulator has not yet deregistered it. Deregistration of the aircraft by the regulator is mandatory under global norms for the company to take possession of the aircraft.

The plane was attached by the service tax department in December 2013. It was forced to auction the aircraft after the Mumbai airport moved the Bombay High Court seeking removal of the jet from its premises as it was resulting in a non-productive use of its space. After four failed attempts, Aviation Management Sales won the bid for Rs 340 million.
Documents reviewed by Business Standard show that the possession was delayed as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took time returning files related to the aircraft, which it had seized during the investigation.

After the CBI returned the file, the process was stalled as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) which has asked for a no-objection certificate from the original lessor. Aviation Management has termed it “illegal”, saying the DGCA’s own regulations, which govern deregistration of aircraft, say that a no-objection certificate is not required. The company didn’t reply to queries sent by Business Standard.

05/11/18 Arindam Majumder & Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard

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